Created: Wed, 23 Oct 2013 06:31:00 EST
Updated: Thu, 24 Oct 2013 10:11:43 EST
Monday's ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court on the constitutionality of Bibb County's Sobriety checkpoints has caught the attention of local defense attorneys.
Since the ruling, Macon DUI attorney Ann Parman has been very busy.
“My clients are all calling me," Parman said.
The Georgia Supreme Court decision claims Bibb County Sheriff's Office's road block policy violates the constitution.
“Was the road block for general purposes of crime fighting or was the road block for a specific purpose?" she asked.
That's the question Parman and other DUI attorneys are now asking. Sheriff David Davis said for years, the office's written roadblock policy allowed deputies to conduct checkpoints that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, to fight crime in general. However, thanks to the Williams vs. Georgia case ruling, it's not anymore.
"Our written policies were not up to what the court standards were," Sheriff Davis said.
In the case summary, it says James Williams was stopped by deputies at a downtown Macon roadblock in 2010. Officers alleged Williams was intoxicated and began to administer field sobriety tests which he refused. He was arrested and charged for driving under the influence but due to the vague wording of the sheriff's office roadblock policy, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled Williams' traffic stop as unconstitutional and a violation of Williams' fourth amendment, the right against illegal search and seizure.
"Now we have new direction from the court so obviously we're going to revise our policies,” Davis said. “We're in the process of doing that right now."
The road blocks are required to have a specific purpose, like sobriety, seat-belts or a license check. Davis said his deputies have made more than 300 DUI arrests already this year. He estimates less than 20 percent of DUI arrests are made at road blocks.
Besides the Williams case, Georgia's Supreme Court ruled a roadblock case in Cobb County unconstitutional, citing the deputies’ procedures and set up. Parman says that will be another factor she will investigate in regards to her clients.